Perry man sentenced in posing as officer to steal drugs, cash

A Perry County man who posed as a police officer to steal drugs and cash from people has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Vernon Todd Griffie, a former volunteer sheriff's deputy and ambulance-service worker, admitted taking part in robberies in Knott and Letcher counties in 2007.

Griffie said in a court document that another man, Tony Ray Herald, came up with a scheme to rob people they suspected of being drug dealers, and that he joined in.

Herald identified suspected drug dealers and arranged to buy pills from them, and then he and Griffie later returned, forced their way in and robbed the people, Griffie admitted.

The two posed as sheriff's deputies or officers from Operation UNITE, according to a court document.

Herald and Griffie were charged with Brooke Leann Collins, who helped in one of the robberies. All three said they were hooked on drugs. The pills they stole were to abuse and sell, Griffie said.

The three pleaded guilty. Herald, the ringleader, was sentenced to 192 months in prison. Collins received a 30-month sentence.

U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar sentenced Griffie on Tuesday in federal court in Pikeville.